What to Pack in a Car Emergency Kit: Be Prepared on the Road

As a self-proclaimed Queen of Preparation, I always like to consider what-ifs in any given situation. Since we spend so much time in a car every day, it’s important to consider packing a car emergency kit, especially for those long road trips

Over the years I’ve discovered what really matters in an car emergency kit, so I’ve put together this list of emergency kit essentials for cars.

I find making it yourself often creates a more customized package suited to you, so feel free to add in things you may need, depending where you’re from!

what to pack in a car emergency kit

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Why You Need a Car Emergency Kit

Imagine yourself cruising down a lonely stretch of highway when suddenly your car decides to take a breather. It’s getting dark, cell reception is a myth in this part of the world, and the next town is miles away. 

This, right here, is why you need a car emergency kit

It’s not just about having a spare tire; a comprehensive emergency kit for your car can be the difference between spending the night in your vehicle and getting back on the road in no time. 

From flat tires on rainy nights to unexpected breakdowns in the scorching heat, a well-prepared DIY car emergency kit can save the day. 

So, whether it’s a routine commute or a cross-country adventure, having a car emergency kit list and assembling your car survival kit, including a winter car emergency kit, isn’t just wise, it’s essential.

Building Your DIY Car Emergency Kit

Give yourself the sense of security while cruising down the road, knowing you’ve got your back covered with a car emergency kit you assembled yourself. 

I’ve found there’s something incredibly satisfying about putting together your DIY car emergency kit. It’s not just about being prepared; it’s about customizing your kit to fit your every need—whether you’re battling the icy grips of winter with a winter car emergency kit or ensuring you can handle any minor mishap on a family road trip.

Think of your regular routes, the unique climate conditions you face, and let that guide you in creating a car survival kit that’s as unique as your journey.

 I urge you, don’t leave your safety to chance. Start building your personalized car emergency kit using a comprehensive car emergency kit list as your blueprint. It’s a step toward making every drive a safer adventure.

All-Season Essentials for Your DIY Car Emergency Kit

  1. First-aid kit: An absolute must for addressing unexpected minor injuries. You never know when a simple band-aid could come in handy. You can buy premade ones, but I like to DIY first aid kits because you can customize it to include what you need (and often make it for less money, too!)
  2. Jumper cables: A non-negotiable item, because dead batteries don’t announce their arrival. Be the hero, either for yourself or for another stranded soul.
  3. Multi-tool: This miniature toolbox can be a game changer, ready to tackle anything from tightening bolts to cutting cords.
  4. Flashlight and extra batteries: Vital for nighttime emergencies, a beacon in the darkness guiding you through repairs or signalling for help. Some may prefer the hand-crank type flashlight, and ones like this include USB charging and radio access.
  5. Emergency blanket: Whether it’s to stave off the chill or to signal for help, this compact lifesaver is essential.
  6. Bottled water and non-perishable snacks: Basic human needs shouldn’t be overlooked; hydration and sustenance could be crucial in a wait for assistance.
  7. Battery backup for your phone (and don’t forget cables!): In today’s world, a charged phone could mean the difference between getting help fast or not at all.
  8. Tow straps: You never know when you may need to be pulled out of a precarious situation. A passerby may be willing to tow you out, but without straps, you’ll be stuck waiting for emergency services.
  9. Reflective warning triangles: Safety first—make sure your stranded vehicle is visible to oncoming traffic, reducing the risk of further incidents.
  10. A reliable map: Technology fails, but a physical map can guide you through unknown territories or to the nearest gas station.

Winter Specific- Additions

  • A heavy blanket or sleeping bag: Keeping warm if you’re stranded is a top priority. A heavy blanket or sleeping bag can be a lifesaver during those below-freezing nights. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for this addition to your winter car emergency kit.
  • Sand, salt, or cat litter: These can provide the necessary traction to get your vehicle moving again if it gets stuck on ice. I’ve been there, and scattering a bit around your tires can make all the difference.
  • An ice scraper and snow brush: Essential for keeping your windows clear. Visibility is everything in snowy conditions, and these tools help ensure you can always see where you’re going.
  • Hat, mittens and extra socks: You never know if you’ll be wearing weather-appropriate attire when you drive during the winter (I’ve been there!), so take comfort in knowing there are some warm-weather accessories tucked away in your vehicle.
  • Extra windshield washer fluid with antifreeze: Dirty snow and slush can compromise your windshield’s clarity in seconds. Regular top-ups can keep it from freezing and maintain visibility.

Maintaining Your Kit

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of routinely maintaining your car emergency kit. It’s not just about having a car survival kit tucked away in your trunk – it’s about ensuring it’s up to date and fully stocked, ready for whatever the road throws at you. 

I recommend setting a reminder for yourself to check your kit every season. 

It’s the perfect time to assess and replace used items, and to consider the shelf-life of any perishables or batteries that might no longer be reliable. 

Remember, a well-maintained car emergency kit is as essential to responsible car ownership as regular oil changes and tire rotations. While it may seem like overkill at times, there’s nothing wrong with being proactive. It’s better to have it than not need it, than need it and not have it!

It’s one of those small efforts that can hugely impact your safety and peace of mind while on the road. Trust me, I’ve been there, and being prepared makes all the difference.

Drive Confidently 

Getting into your car, whether it’s for a daily commute or a spontaneous adventure, carries its own set of uncertainties. But one thing you have control over is how prepared you are for whatever comes your way. 

Consider the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re well-prepared with a car survival kit. This isn’t about expecting the worst; it’s about empowering yourself to handle the unexpected. 

Whether it’s a minor inconvenience or a more significant emergency, your checklist for a car kit ensures you’re not caught off guard. Don’t wait for a scare to remind you of the importance of being prepared.

Drive confidently knowing that no matter what the road ahead might bring, your car emergency kit has got you covered. 

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